Story by Maxwell M. Carey
A friendly monster named Wally once made his cozy home in a section of Boston called The Fenway. But knowing that some people were scared of monsters, he would rarely venture out from his front door.
Looking out his window one wintry morning, Wally saw workers building a big, beautiful baseball park right in his neighborhood.
It would be called Fenway Park and soon his hometown team - The Boston Red Sox - would move in to play there. Baseball was his favorite game, and all winter Wally daydreamed about the coming spring saying, "Gee, I must find a way to go see my Red Sox play ball."
On April 20, 1912, the Red Sox played their first Opening Day game at Fenway Park.
Determined to go, Wally disguised himself with a clever mask and a Red Sox jersey which covered up his beautiful green fur. "I do hope nobody notices me," he worried.
Seating was permitted on the field at that time, so Wally bought a ticket to sit on the grassy rise below the narrow scoreboard in left field.
He loved everything about Fenway, especially the wooden left field wall - tall and wide and covered from top-to-bottom and side-to-side with colorful advertising signs made from tin.
When the Red Sox won, 7-6 in 11 innings, the crowd let out a roar. Wally made so many friends that day - and nary a one had noticed his masterful disguise!
On his way back home Wally vowed, "I'm never, ever going to miss another Red Sox game." That was a smart decision, for that very first year at Fenway Park the Red Sox won the World Series… and the team won it again in 1915, 1916 and 1918! "Hip, hip, hooray!" howled Wally, who did keep going to every single game, every single year. "The Red Sox and Fenway Park are the best!"
In those early years, Wally's favorite player was Babe Ruth - the superb Red Sox pitcher who also became baseball's greatest home run hitter. The Babe often played left field - at times right in front of Wally who often sat on the rise below the big wall, so very close to the action.
Many years later, the Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey decided he would re-build Fenway Park. On Opening Day, April 17, 1934, fans found many improvements including an even bigger left field wall made of concrete and measuring some 37 feet, 2 inches high and 240 feet wide! The grassy rise on the field had been removed, so Wally bought a ticket to sit near the wall in the left field stands.
Walking around the park that day, Wally became fascinated with the new, longer scoreboard which stretched along the bottom of the wall. It kept fans up to date on the game, hit-by-hit, inning-by-inning. "Wow," he exclaimed, "Fenway is even better than before."
Wally celebrated by getting the new Red Sox team jersey and team cap. "A better disguise yet," he giggled.
Undetected, Wally kept going to each Red Sox game every year.
Then one day in 1947, just as a game was ending, his mask slipped off his nose and tumbled out of his seat to the left field grass below. "Oops," he fretted, leaping onto the field in pursuit. "I can't make it home without my disguise."
But before he could find his mask, some workers drew near! Looking to hide, Wally made a beeline for the familiar left field wall. Coming across the concealed door in its scoreboard, he scampered inside.
"Gosh," he murmured nervously, "what a close call!"
Secure inside, Wally discovered a peep-hole in the big scoreboard through which he could hear and see what the workers were doing.
He listened as one worker said that Mr. Yawkey had asked them to take all the signs down off the wall. Wally had always known that some Red Sox batters had trouble seeing a pitched ball with all the colorful signs in the background.
Another worker found the mask and took it to lost-and-found. "Uh-oh," whispered Wally. "Without my disguise, how long might I be trapped here inside?"
Wally watched night and day as all the signs were removed. Soon, more workers came and painted the wall top-to-bottom, side-to-side. "Why it's just about the same shade of green as my beautiful fur," he beamed. "How nice."
Red Sox batters also loved the new green-colored background which provided that perfect contrast for spotting an incoming fastball.
But Wally also knew, from the very first Opening Day in 1912, that players' feelings about the size of the big wall had been a little mixed.
Red Sox hitters celebrated when their pop-ups floated just high and just long enough to sneak over the wall - turning the would-be routine outs in to home runs. "A short one counts the same as a long one," Wally would grin.
And Red Sox pitchers rejoiced when the line drives from other team's batter would rebound high and deep off the wall back onto the field - turning some seemingly sure homers into mere singles. "That's the way the ball bounces - at Fenway!" Wally would chuckle.
But, of course, the wall's fickle nature could help of hurt either team. One day that 1947 season, after a Red Sox pitcher gave up a very short homer over the wall, his catcher told him, "Don't be scared of the next batter." The flustered pitcher sputtered, "I'm not scared of the batter, I'm not scared of the . . . of the… Green Monster!" The pitcher was pointing towards left field, pretending the newly-painted wall was a frightful, living thing. He shouted loud enough for everyone in the park to hear.
All of the Red Sox fans laughed - except one. "Hmm, he must be talking about me," Wally thought, mistakenly figuring he'd been discovered. "After all, I am green - and I am a monster."
Looking down at his beautiful fur, Wally pondered, "I'm proud they want to call me the Green Monster. I'll just make this wall my new home - and never, ever go outside again."
Over the years, Wally would often see people pointing his way and saying this or that about the Green Monster. All this time, he continued to believe they were talking about him - while actually he remained undetected.
"That's OK," he'd say. "My new home is as cozy as my old one, and now I have the best seat in Fenway Park!" Indeed, decade after decade - so very close to the action - Wally watched some of the brightest starts in baseball history play left field for the Red Sox.
Three of them were voted the Most Valuable Player in the American League: Ted Williams, who won the award in 1949 (and in 1946 - when Wally still sat in the stands); Carl Yastrzemski, in 1967; and Jim Rice, in 1978. "It's a little lonely, but living in here isn't bad at all for a Red Sox fan like me," Wally reasoned.
One day in 1997, the Red Sox were getting ready for their annual Kids' Opening Day. While every game at Fenway is great for young fans, Wally knew this one was always extra fun.
Fifty baseball seasons had come and gone since the signs came down, the paint went up, and the now world-famous wall christened the Green Monster was "born". To celebrate, all the boys and girls were asked to look out towards left field and sing Happy Birthday.
When they came to the song's ending - "Happy Birthday Green Monster, Happy Birthday To You" - Wally naturally figured the kids were singing to him!
"Well that's very thoughtful," he smiled. "I don't think these children will mind if I join in the fun - after all, today does seem to be my special day at Friendly Fenway!"
Opening his hidden door in the wall, Wally slowly stepped out onto the field. At first, the crowd was very surprised to see him, not knowing what to make of a monster who wore a Red Sox jersey and cap.
But soon people started cheering which made him feel, well… right at home! So Wally dashed down the left field foul line, shaking hands and making friends with all the fans in their seats along the way.
"Golly," he gushed. "I've got this hunch that everyone is truly happy to see me."
When Wally arrived at home plate, a person asked who we was. "Why, my name is Wally," the furry fan replied, somewhat puzzled. "But fifty years ago everyone here at Fenway started calling me the Green Monster."
The person, who was a bit confused as well, laughed and said, "Well, since you came out of our famous green wall… Wally seems to be a fitting first name!"
After whispering and nodding back and forth, the person announced into a microphone, "Girls and boys, ladies and gentlemen, throwing out the first pitch today to honor the fiftieth birthday of the legendary wall we call the Green Monster is… um - Wally… The Green Monster!"
The crowd went wild!
After throwing his pitch, Wally high-fived all the Red Sox players in the dugout and then ran down the right field foul line and on out to the bullpen and bleachers - greeting more fans and players on his way.
Finally, he ducked back into the door of his big, green, left field wall home. "Oh my, I've got to get out more often," he pledged to himself.
During the seventh inning stretch, Wally did come back out - and he helped the big crowd of fans sing. Take Me Out To The Ball Game.
His favorite line from the song is, "I don't care if I never get back…" Because for more than 50 years of "root, root, root-ing for the home team," Wally has never, ever come back from Friendly Fenway Park.